It would be difficult- difficult, not impossible- to ascertain the worst response to a question at the GOP presidential debate (transcript here) held last night at St. Anselm's college in New Hampshire. But determining the best is a slam dunk.
When an answer is wise, constitutionally solid, historically accurate, and delivered as a rebuke to a fellow candidate, it stands alone and apart. It began when ABC's Diane Sawyer, unintentionally channeling the "come home, America" of George McGovern in 1972, asked Mitt Romney "Governor, time to come home?" The former Massachusetts governor responded
Well, we want to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can. And Governor Huntsman says at the end of 2013 the -- the -- the president and the -- the commanders are saying they think 2014 is a better date. We’ll get a chance to see what happens over the coming year....
And I would bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can, of course, based upon my own experience there, going there, informing myself of what’s happening there and listening to the commanders on the ground.
Asked if he disagreed, Jon Huntsman responded
I would have to tell Mitt that the president of the United States is the commander-in-chief. Of course you get input and -- and advice from a lot of different corners of Washington, including the commanders on the ground.
But we also deferred to the commanders on the ground in about 1967, during the Vietnam War, and we didn’t get very good advice then....
While the President's role as commander-in-chief is strictly limited, the question pertained strictly to Afghanistan. If someone runs for the presidency, he (or she) ought to be willing to assume the responsibility of the office. Strategic and even tactical decisions are in the purview of the President- and Article II of the U.S. Constitution accordingly specifies "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States."
A candidate should not be able to hide behind the uniform of a military officer. Anyone not willing to accept- indeed, embrace- a critical responsibility of the office should instead push for a cabinet position or serve as a governor, run for Senator and President, and thereafter claim he is not a career politician.